Category Archives: Coffee

Pinhalense in place … at last! Naming competition …

Many months ago, I mentioned the Pinhalense that we were fortunate enough to acquire from a friend the previous summer. Not wanting to do things by half, or indeed fearful of not doing justice to the machine itself, we waitied patiently until a proper space could be made available as its permanent home.Copyright CakeBoy 2007

Well the good news is that everything is now up and running thanks to some very kind help from a relative. It’s real seat of the pants roasting and extremely enjoyable. Interestingly, it seems easier to regulate the temperature of roasts with the Pinhalense situated beneath proper ventilation than it did whilst temporarily housed in the same space, though only a couple of roasts took place in that scenario and it could just be a case of becoming more familiar.

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Danny McNulty

The all too small speciality coffee world that many of us inhabit was rocked yesterday with the shock news that fellow enthusiast Danny McNulty had passed in the early hours of the morning.

It is always a surprise when someone dies suddenly, but even more so when they are apparently healthy, quite young – Danny was forty-nine – and a larger than life character. It seems that Danny had not been feeling too well and had been to hospital for tests. From accounts on alt.coffee, he went downhill quite quickly. That is all I know. It certainly made me think about how precious yet frail life is and how important it is to make the most of every sweet moment.

I came across Danny’s fabulously eclectic and informative website (www.danny.mcnulty.btinternet.co.uk/about.html) very early on in myDanny as he appears on his own website coffee journey, long before finding TMC and other places that I now frequent. His espresso area was full of useful information about pulling shots, grinding correctly and all sorts about equipment. I have been pointing newcomers to coffee towards Danny’s pages ever since as his style of sharing information made so many hirtherto befuddling things very clear to me when I was at that stage of my development.

Danny’s Aladdin’s cave of a site also yielded the extemely entertaining story of his exploits in starting up a ‘commercial’ mobile coffee trailer near his Portsmouth home, which at first appeared to be as much for fun as anything, but subsequently became a very successful venture. That was Danny, up to all sorts and always having an adventure. He certainly seemed to live life to the full.

Like many online coffee folk, I never met Danny personally, but I did email him to say thank you for the information on his site and a very pleasent conversation ensued. He was clearly a very nice and very patient man, whom many felt as if they knew like a friend through his online persona. Danny was a member of TMC and an infrequent poster, though when he did pop-in, everyone seemed to know him.

For a while, Danny was the UK distributor of Monsooned Malabar. A few of my TMC compartiots bought from him now and then, all spoke highly.

In a small way, Danny was the ‘Alistair Cooke’ of the UK coffee world, regularly penning extremely funny pieces regaling readers of alt.coffee with his adventures in the coffee trailer, entitled “Sitting in a Field”. A search on An early photo from his own website of Danny's Espresso Bar 'Sitting in a field'alt.coffee will yield years worth of these classic little pieces that remind me very much of ‘Letter from America’. If you have not read them, they are well worth seeking out. Danny’s charm and wit shine through readily, as does his obvious consideration for his fellow beings. These are his lasting legacy to this, our little coffee world, which is today poorer for Danny’s loss.

God bless you Danny, rest peacefully. You will be missed by so many different people in lots of different ways. Thank you from those of us to whom you gave guidance either directly or through your website.

Our thoughts are with Danny’s loved ones.

coffee101.co.uk

News of a fantastic new coffee site that has sprung to life in recent weeks, http://www.coffee101.co.uk

Steve Leighton of Has Bean Coffee (www.hasbean.co.uk) has launched a completely free tutorial site that offers ten daily email ‘lessons’ intended to help newbies and experienced coffee people alike. As always, Steve gives much of himself and offers readers huge amounts of information drawn from his vast experience in the coffee industry.

The content offers an excellent overview of coffee history, information about where coffee comes from, how it is processed and types of roast amongst many other things. I just wish something like this had been about when I first got into coffee. It dispels many myths for people just starting out with the hobby and is invaluable for that reason alone. As someone with a little more experience, I found the course offered me focus by making so much knowledge available in one place and filling in a few gaps as well.

Well worth a look, totally free and containing some discount codes for Has Bean, I would advise everyone from the newest of the new to industry old hands to sign up and enjoy the fruits of Steve’s amazing know-how.

Tea Thing!

This ladies and gentlemen is “Tea Thing”! It is a sample that was given to Scott at Happy Donkey (www.happydonkey.co.uk) and passed to us to have a look at. There are no instruction and Scott was told that there are only three or so in the country at the moment. It has been played around with and thus far we cannot decide for sure whether it is meant to produce a cup/mug or a tea pot full at a time. We will shortly post the test results, but in the mean time, if anyone has any thoughts, please be forthcoming.

Copyright CakeBoy 2008

The Costa Rican arrives, more Intelligentsia delights & Hooooorah – er, I mean Harrar!

Good news, the rather lovely Costa Rican that Scott from Happy Donkey (www.happydonkey.co.uk) kindlyCopyright CakeBoy 2008 allowed us to sample in February has now been added to his intentory. We have tried a bag or two of this medium roast coffee from the new stock and it remains every bit as lovely as the original sample. From our tasting log, “Lovely smooth sweet coffee with a good thick body. Nice honeycomb, frutiness with honey tones. Another very nice Costa Rican indeed”. And that says it all really, well worth trying. Good on Scott too, he is one of very few commercial bean suppliers that cares more about quality than bottom line. He selects his coffees very carefully and turns most around within a month – a week is not unusual for his top end blends. It would be nice to see other commercial suppliers emulating the gourmet market by keeping things high quality and as fresh as possible.

Talking of the gourmet market, roasting demi-god Steve over at Has Bean (www.hasbean.co.uk) has just put this year’s Ethiopian Harrar crop up on his site. I’ve heard from a couple of people that this year some of the beans are particulary good, though beware not all Harrars are equal, so make sure you buy from a source you know and trust. Steve describes this one as “Intense, with a complex taste of fruit, wine and chocolate”. We Harrar fans all know that if the crop is good and the preparation is right it can be the biggest blueberry bomb you can imagine. If you haven’t tried it, now is the time!

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Kid ‘O’ & the Valentine’s Day Bolivian boys …….

A recent visit from a Canadian relative yielded a couple of bags of Intelligentsia’s finest (www.intelligentsiacoffee.com); the inimitable “Kid O’s Organic Espresso” and the somewhat long in title, but rather delightful, “Los Delirios Organic Nicaragua Direct Trade”. The beans were sourced from Manic Coffee in Toronto (www.maniccoffee.com), the owner of which, Matt Lee, is also the Canadian distributor of Intelligentsia. Both bags had been roasted a couple of weeks before arriving with us.

“Kid O” is one of the best known espresso blends in the world of speciality coffee. It is nothing short of a legend, and something that all gourmet aficionados strive to try at least once in their coffee lives, unless of course they live in North America, where their local quality independant cafe may well be serving it every day). As a typically dark roasted North American blend, it might not suit all European palates save for perhaps those of the old school Italian roast persuasion. It has a bit of a reputation for being a demanding blend to extract perfectly, but this is not something that should concern any self respecting hardcore enthusiast with reasonable equipment. Continue reading

Some new coffee to try …….

It has been a couple of weeks, life has been rather hectic, and it’s nice to finally be blogging again.

Around Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a couple of samples by Scott White at Happy Donkey (www.happydonkey.co.uk). He is considering both as potential new additions to his ever improving and rather impressive inventory of top quality commercial coffees.

The first was described by Scott, in his own inimitable way, as “quite odd in a nice way” and “good in a different way”. It was marked only as ‘Guatemalan Maragogype’ and Scott had no further information. Continue reading